Last week we finally released our new collection of zero waste, handmade home goods, including brand new plant and storage baskets, a new type of soft wall art, as well as some more cozy and soft pillow cases. With this post I want to take you behind the scenes and explore a bit deeper on how some of these products were designed and made.
This little basket started out just as a flat piece of handwoven fabric, long before the idea of making a basket was even formed. It all started out as an experiment with a bulky warp on my frame loom. I had always been using a very thin cotton yarn to warp my loom and wanted to try what kind of effects I could create with some bulkier yarn. The dark grey one I chose used to be a scarf once and is not really a nice quality yarn, but more an accumulation of thin threads held together. These types of "yarn" are quite common in fast fashion bulky knits, such as scarves, sweaters and cardigans.
For the weft of the piece, a sort of mathematically constructed gradient emerged, where I would alternate between a light grey yarn and a turquiose and blue one - all of which came from the secondhand store and another old scarf. The light grey yarn transitions from bulky to fine, while the colorful yarns transition from one to another. This way there is a gradient in saturation, as well as a gradient in the density of the grid. Both transitions happen over a span of 7 rows (alternating each the 7 light grey rows), starting with 6x turquise, 1x blue, then 5x turqoise, 2x blue and so on.
To make the piece of woven fabric into a basket shape, I use a simple cylindrical pattern. The bottom of the basket is a sturdy canvas circle and the lining is made from the same, secondhand material. Since the woven piece is quite tall, it was easy to implement a folding rim. If you ever try something like this yourself, make sure to sew carefully and slowly, as the woven fabric can be bulky in places and some of the bigger, fuzzier yarns can get caught easily in your feed dogs and cause the needle to break.
See the finished basket here.
This pillow case was created with a little bit of a detour. It started out as a small circular punch needle piece on my interlocking embroidery frame. Not really knowing what to do with the quite small, 20cm diameter piece, I decided to stretch the whole piece of fabric on a wooden frame instead and expand the pattern to make a full pillow case. Thankfully I had left enough fabric around the initial inner circle.
The different textures, the flat embroidered looking one and the fluffy, carpet looking one are created by punching from either side. When using the punch needle, the flat side is your working side and the fluffy loops are created on the other side of the fabric. By alternating which side you work from, higher and lower parts can be created, making for some nice contrast between the different color solids.
The pillow was finished with a backing piece to the punch needle fabric, to stop the loops from rubbing against the inner pillow and pulling out. Then I added a simple envelope closure to the back and a scrap pillow for the stuffing. The scrap inner pillow is something I make every now and then, whenever I have collected enough yarn scraps and fabric cut-offs. I sew a simple square pillow from some leftover or not so frequently used fabric and stuff it full with all my collected scraps.
See the finished pillow case here.
These little baskets were created basically in the same way as the yarn basket, just simply splitting my frame loom in two pieces, so I could weave some narrow and long strips. One of them has a quite detailed vertical stripe pattern, that then, when sewn into the basket turns into a horizontal pattern. The other one has a horizontal pattern, alternating some finer and super bulky yarn. This one then turns into a vertical pattern in the final basket shape.
The baskets are the perfect size for any pots up to 16cm diameter. I would recommend to place some sort of dish or even an old yoghurt lid in the bottom of the basket to catch any draining water. The plant baskets temselves are not waterproof but can be cleaned carefully by hand in case.
See the finished baskets here.
The base for this piece of wall art is an old picture frame. By taking out the glass and backing, the frame can be turned into a canvas and painted with yarn. The fabric stretched over this frame is a soft pink linen, once a pair of curtains. Using the punch needle technique, which really is like drawing with yarns, different recycled yarns were used to create the image, looking out onto a sunset over the ocean.
I started with some small sketches and then a large template. I transfered the outlines onto both sides of the fabric, since I would be punching from either one them. The fluffy leaves and vases were created from the back side, while all the other areas were filled with flat stitches from the front side of the canvas. These different textures really give some dimension and depth to the scene, making a clear distinction between background and foreground.
While a large piece like this takes many hours to create, stitch by stitch, the act of doing so is quite meditative. Following the outlines like paint by numbers, it is quite a nice way to relax. That being said, it is sometimes difficult to find the exact right color for an area. In the process of this piece, multiple sections, like the water, inside of the archway and inner floor had to be un-done and redone with different colors to achieve the perfect color combination.
See the finished piece here.
The whole process for this piece was so spur in the moment and a sort of one-day, one streak of focus project, that there are no pictures from the process. When I started out weaving the dark red piece with some extremely bulky yarn, (once again, previously a scarf) I didn't really know where I was going and if I could even succed making a finished product with it. But somehow in the process, I found some matching fabric and a circular weaving I had made in matching colors and the idea for a cylindrical pillow was born.
The scalloped edge of the woven piece made a perfect cover for the long zipper integrated into the pillow case. Once again, there is a matching cylindrical scrap pillow inside, to give the pillow it's fun shape.
See the Log Pillow here.
Of course the waste material in my stash is never ending and new ideas are already brewing for the next collection of sustainable home goods. I'm getting close to finishing a large quilt, made from multiple pairs of broken pants and some secondhand fabric. The loom is already warped and half woven for a new rug or wall tapestry. With any new collection, I like to just follow my inspiration and create a few pieces. Whenever I have finished a few of them, I pull them together and see what kind of other products could fit to make it a full collection or how I could connect the dots. Launch is whenever a collection is ready, not following 52 seasons and not allowing pressure for speed or quantity on the production process.